There is no greater gift to give someone than the ability to make music. Music has the ability to draw out a range of emotions, and is permeated throughout every single culture, city, nation, and continent on this planet. The main problem with learning instruments though, is there's a extremely large barrier of entry. And learning how to play a drum kit is one of the most expensive, save for brass and woodwind instruments such as the saxophone or bagpipes.

With drums, it's typical to start learning on a practice pad, to reduce the barrier of entry. A low end drum kit from a company such as Pearl typically costs about $400 to $500, and a practice pad usually goes for about $20 to $30, aside from products such as individual pads, which are simply round sheets of rubber or vinyl that can go for a fourth of the cost. Usually you would want 2-3 pads, to practice rudiments and transitions between drum heads before you purchase a kit. Then sticks are an additional cost, and decent ones are upwards of $5.

I have an absolute ton of cardboard, mostly from Amazon purchases over the past few weeks, and I've been wanting to learn how to play the drums. However, the same cost barrier issue came up. I made a goal of this for the contest: What's the absolute cheapest I can make a practice pad, one that's made from easily available materials?

Everybody has easy access to cardboard, be it from Costco, Walmart, or your own garage. I was able to make this for a total cost of $0, not including drum sticks. This is easily make-able for the cost of a single practice pad from Amazon, making it twice as cheap to learn the drums. Now to the instructable:

Step 1: Step 1: Trace and Cut Out Your Drum Heads

You're going to want to find something round for this, about 3 to 6 inches in diameter. The first question is, how many drum heads do you want to make? Do you want to practice on a single pad, or on several? However many you're making, make twice the amount. Make sure that any packing tape is removed from your cardboard at this point, it can affect how the glue holds together the pieces. Take the corrugation of the cardboard, and rotate one piece 90 degrees so it's perpendicular to the other. This will make it stronger and more rigid, to hold up better against drum sticks and heavy hits.

For mine, I traced and cut out 12. I made 3 sets of 2 pads, so I can arrange them in a pattern similar to a beginner's 4 piece drum kit. Each pad is constructed from two pieces of cardboard as previously described.

Step 2: Step 2: Trace and Cut Out the Bases for Your Drum Pads

Now that your drum heads are cut, glued, and drying, you're going to need something sturdy to mount them too. Take two of them, and place them on an additional sheet of cardboard. Draw a rectangle or oval around them, careful that the edges of the circles don't hit the edges of the shape. About 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch is a good margin, it leaves enough room to mount the drum heads to the base.

You're going to want to make 3 layers for each drum pad, so multiply however many you're making by 3 and trace and cut out that many, careful to change the placement so the corrugation will be perpendicular to the previous layer.

Step 3: Step 3: Cut Out the Hollows in the Drum Pad Bases

Now take each drum pad base, and a drum head and trace its circle twice on each base. This will determine the final placement of the drum heads on the bases, as well as guide you in cutting out hollows underneath the pads. Take a box cutter and cut rectangles in the top two layers of cardboard on each base, leaving room to glue the heads to the pad base. Now take one uncut base and two uncut bases, and glue them together so there's a cavity in the top of the body about 3/8 of an inch deep.

Glue the layers together, and weigh them down with something heavy like a water bottle, or textbooks so the layers can properly dry together. It's also handy to weigh down the drum heads at this stage as well, to make sure they hold together without falling apart.

Step 4: Step 4: Glue the Drum Heads to the Drum Pad Bases Over the Hollows

Now this is the final step! Don't get to enthusiastic and think you can start slamming something out immediately, it does good to wait for it to fully dry. Using more PVA glue, squeeze a ring on the bottom of each head before attaching it to the bases. You can test the sound of it by tapping hard with your finger, but be careful so the pieces don't slip apart. Wait 20 more minutes or so, and it should be fully dry and playable.

You can either use pencils, sand down some dowels, or I'd recommend you pick up a set of drum sticks from Amazon or your local music store. At this stage, it doesn't matter what brand, price, or type of drumsticks you pick. You can use something like furniture pads, or tape to affix these to a table or bench while you practice. Now look up some lessons, and have fun learning!

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